Supply uncertainty may plunge peak quarter 22 plate sales to all time low, says Fraser Brown

Fraser Brown

Fraser Brown, Managing Director of MotorVise

The new 22 plate released on March 1 may attract an all-time low of new registrations in what has been a traditional peak quarter, automotive industry expert Fraser Brown predicts.

He says the relationship between new registrations and car sales has been broken by the constraints placed on manufacturers’ production lines by the pandemic.

New registrations over the previous three peak quarters continued to demonstrate a downward trajectory: 330,000 in September 2020; 283,000 in March 2021, and 215,000 in September 2021.

Fraser, founder and managing director of MotorVise Automotive, said: “I fear March 2022 will see a further fall and we may only see around 200,000 new cars registered.

“Previously, the key March and September dates were almost a national event, with customers aiming to pick up their new car on or as close to the first of the month as possible, and those who delayed did so to secure a discount.

“While the new registration figures for this peak quarter are likely to reach an all-time low, these figures are dictated by the lower number of vehicles rolling off production lines.

“The automotive calendar has been turned on its head by the challenges facing manufacturers and the supply chain. The traditional peaks and troughs of sales linked to new registrations have been evened out by availability. Customers are still buying new cars but accept they may face a wait of several months as the vehicle may not even have been built at the time of ordering.”

Fraser has spoken to dealerships across the UK who report that the supply of new vehicles remains uncertain.

“The reality is that a car ordered in March may not even arrive at a dealership until July. Some manufacturers are responding better than others, with VW currently sitting top of the supply tree. Predicting production levels is difficult as it’s impossible to know what manufacturers have in the pipeline.”

As well as the disruptions caused by the pandemic, including the global shortage of semiconductor chips, manufacturers have also been holding back higher emission vehicles built last year.

This is due to recent regulations introduced around C02 emission performance standards. Such vehicles may end up appearing in showrooms this year as the increasing adoption of pure electric and hybrid vehicles continues to dilute the overall emission figures.

Fraser added: “The automotive industry is recovering and as a consultancy we are experiencing an increase in demand for services such as recruitment, training, and sales events, which is being triggered by dealerships welcoming more customers through their doors.

“While this quarter may be disappointing in terms of new registrations, I expect the uncertainty over vehicle supply to recede later this year or early 2023 and some level of normality to return.”

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